As this January officially marked my 10-year anniversary as a financial advisor, I am writing this email to pause for a moment of reflection. Life finds a way to occasionally remind us that it is not slowing down for anyone, and this anniversary marked one of those subtle reminders to me. In the Fall of 2013, I showed up to Capitol Financial Solutions for an interview wearing the only suit I owned at the time. The suit had recently been purchased from Belk as a graduation gift from my family. Having grown up in a family who didn’t wear a suit to work and didn’t know the first thing about tying a tie, I showed up to that interview feeling excited to impress in my new suit and YouTube video informed ‘tied’ tie. As the interviews progressed and my resume was complimented, I was feeling more and more confident about my chances of receiving an offer. My internal chatter was buzzing “you’re crushing this whole suit get-up, you were meant for this type of work.” When I reached my final interview with the firm’s CEO, we exchanged brief pleasantries and then with a sly smile he abruptly noted “you know you are supposed to cut that tag off the right sleeve of your suit.” Busted! My suit wearing greenness had been exposed and my ego quickly deflated. My team and I laugh about this and other snafus that happen in those early days as an aspiring professional; yet, in hindsight, that moment created one of my first on the job learning opportunities. Many of you who I have now had the pleasure of serving as your advisor for the better part of these past 10 years will likely appreciate knowing that I have learned a few other things along the way in addition to how to properly tie a tie. I am excited to share ten of those financial insights with you today:
- Concentration creates wealth; diversification preserves it. Many of the larger estates I have come across have been created through the concentration of energy in building a business, the concentration in having one’s money tied up in owning a particular stock that performed exceptionally well, and/or the concentration of owning a desirable piece of real estate. Diversification is then leveraged as a tool to preserve it.
- Time in the market and not time‘ing’ the market has proven to be a better recipe for long term investment success.
- Greed and fear drive the stock market cycles (i.e. the ups and downs). These cycles are likely inevitable as long as these emotions are a part of the human operating system.
- People tend to spend the first 2/3 of their financial life complicating it (i.e. buying second and third homes, having multiple investment accounts) and the last 1/3 of their life trying to simplify it.
- The media and our political bias provide the fuel for bad investment decisions.
- Good savers have a hard time spending. The reverse tends to also be true.
- Not all debt is bad. Taking out a loan to start a business venture; using student loans to go back to school for a higher paying job; these are examples of leveraging debt as an investment in the betterment of our financial future.
- There tends to be an inversely proportional relationship between time and money. When we are young, we are time rich and wealth poor. As we grow older, we tend to become more wealth rich and time poor.
- Access to readily available cash makes us feel wealthier. People who make a lot of money and do not have access to liquid monies tend to feel less financially secure than those who make a lot less but have access to readily available money.
- Regardless of where we fall on the wealth spectrum, financial planning for most people becomes an exercise in evaluating opportunity cost. If I pay for my children’s college, then how will my retirement date be impacted? If I purchase a beach property, then how will my travel budget be impacted? Evaluating our own unique if/then scenarios is the essence of financial planning.
The awareness garnered from these insights has hopefully allowed me to become a more empathetic advisor. I hope by sharing these insights that you will also gain a little more awareness and understanding of your own relationship with money.
It has been one of the greatest joys of my life serving as a trusted steward of my client’s assets over the past decade. Thank you for the confidence you have bestowed in me as your advisor. I promise to continue working hard, getting better, and providing the counsel you deserve.
In closing, I will tell you what I would say to my family if they asked about my future as a financial advisor…I am more excited than I have ever been about the future of financial advising. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to build lasting relationships with my clients and I look forward to continuing to serve as your trusted thought partner in the decade ahead.